Darius Kasparaitis

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Darius Kasparaitis
Darius Kasparaitis.jpg
Born (1972-10-16) October 16, 1972 (age 48)
Elektrėnai, Lithuanian SSR, Soviet Union
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 215 lb (98 kg; 15 st 5 lb)
Position Defence
Shot Left
Played for Dynamo Moscow
New York Islanders
Pittsburgh Penguins
Colorado Avalanche
New York Rangers
Ak Bars Kazan
SKA Saint Petersburg
Hockey Punks Vilnius
National team Olympic flag.svg Unified Team,
 Russia and
 Lithuania
NHL Draft 5th overall, 1992
New York Islanders
Playing career 1988–2009
2013–2017

Darius Kasparaitis (born October 16, 1972) is a Lithuanian-American former professional ice hockey defenceman. He mainly played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche, and New York Rangers. He is a four-time Olympian and three-time medalist, winning one gold medal, one silver medal, and one bronze medal. He received the title of Honoured Master of Sports of the USSR in 1992 and was inducted into the Russian and Soviet Hockey Hall of Fame in 2016. His 28 career Olympic games is a record among Russian national team's players.[1]

Playing career[edit]

Kasparaitis left Lithuania for Russia at age 14 after training with Aleksey Nikiforov to play ice hockey at a higher level. Kasparaitis played his first game for Dynamo Moscow, one of the premier teams in the Soviet Union, at the age of 16 during the 1988–89 season, and won the Soviet League championship with them in 1992. He was drafted by the New York Islanders with the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. Kasparaitis played for the New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche, and New York Rangers.

Kasparaitis was known for his aggressive physical playing style and led his teams in hits[citation needed] several times, including his rookie season, in 1992–93 NHL season with the New York Islanders. On November 17, 1996, Kasparaitis was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins.[2] While playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1998[3] Kasparaitis' made a hard hit on Eric Lindros[4][5] that knocked Lindros out of action for 18 games. On March 19, 2002, he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche at the trade deadline, where he spent the remainder of the 2001–02 NHL season.[6] Kasparaitis eventually wound up with the New York Rangers when he was signed on July 2, 2002.[7] During the 2005–06 season, he served as an alternate captain of the Rangers, along with Jaromír Jágr and Steve Rucchin, as the Rangers had no captain.

Because the Lithuanian national ice hockey team was relatively weak and had not ever played in major competitions, Kasparaitis chose to represent Russia in official events. In December 2005, Kasparaitis was chosen to represent Russia in the 2006 Winter Olympics. At the start of the 2006–07 season, Kasparaitis was replaced as an alternate captain with the Rangers by newly acquired Brendan Shanahan. He was waived by the New York Rangers on January 24, 2007 and subsequently demoted to the Rangers' affiliate in Hartford.

Kasparaitis was once again waived by the Rangers prior to the 2007–08 season.[8] On November 3, 2007, the Rangers announced that Kasparaitis had been loaned to SKA St. Petersburg of the then-Russian Superleague (RSL), now the KHL. The deal was made possible due to a lack of a transfer agreement between Russia and North America at the time. However, the Rangers retained his NHL rights.[citation needed]

Kasparaitis left an enduring impression with Ranger fans with the team salute that he created. After every Rangers home win, Kasparaitis would direct the players to center ice and have the whole team follow in saluting the fans by raising their sticks in the air before departing the ice. The tradition is still carried on by the Rangers for every home win.[9] He continued to play for SKA Saint Petersburg in the 2008–09 season. In 26 games, he contributed a single assist.

In the 2009–10 season, he did not play due to an injury and eventually announced his retirement at the conclusion of the season.[10] Since his retirement he has attempted to become eligible to represent Lithuania internationally,[11] which he finally did in 2018, playing for the team in the World Ice Hockey Championships Division 1B.

Playing style[edit]

"I don't worry whether someone hates me if they are from Pittsburgh. I want people to like me on Long Island. If I'm traded to Pittsburgh, I want them to like me there. It's business."

Kasparaitis on May 13, 1993 prior to game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.[12]

Kasparaitis played the game in the mold of a hard-hitting stay-at-home defenceman, a playing style which in Kasparaitis' case also included a substantial amount of agitation.[13] In his rookie season in the NHL in 1992–93, he had already earned a reputation as a pesky player; one hockey pundit at the time wrote that he "shows an unusual lack of respect and deference for established NHL stars." One such star was Pittsburgh Penguins captain Mario Lemieux; in Game 6 of the Patrick Division finals during the 1993 Stanley Cup playoffs, Kasparaitis was "in Lemieux's face" for much of the game, at one point giving him a glove to the face and eventually earning a 2-minute elbowing penalty.[12]

During the 1997–98 season, while a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kasparaitis decked Philadelphia Flyers captain Eric Lindros along the boards with a hard and straight hit to the chest, a hit which left Lindros with a concussion and held him out of the game for over a month. The two players later became teammates and friends when Kasparaitis signed with the New York Rangers for the 2002–03 season, with Lindros himself helping to pitch Rangers as the right destination for Kasparaitis by calling him at midnight on July 1, 2002.[14]

"It’s the other teams that get upset. The other teams may say they don’t respect me, but I’m not a dirty player; I just play hard. I hit people without telling them I’m going to hit them, and I don’t think they like that."

Kasparaitis on his on-ice role in March 2006.[15]

During the 2005–06 NHL season, while playing for the New York Rangers, Kasparaitis had run-ins with New Jersey Devils right winger Grant Marshall, with Kasparaitis delivering a shoulder to the head of Marshall which concussed the New Jersey winger on January 22, and Marshall retaliating on March 4 by sucker-punching Kasparaitis in the head. Marshall stated he had "zero respect" for Kasparaitis. Kasparaitis on the other hand said he was in complete control of his emotions, and that he would not allow his game to become a distraction to his own team.[15]

Post-retirement[edit]

On June 19, 2010, Kasparaitis signed as the assistant coach for SKA Saint Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).[16] The contract expired on December 22, 2010.[citation needed]

In early 2015, Kasparaitis co-founded the Verzasca Group, a Florida-based real estate development company, of which he holds the title as president.[17][18] The company is named after the Verzasca river in Switzerland, because of the "transparency that the firm strives to bring to both its investors and its development partners."[19] Later in the year, the company had gained approval on two residential projects in the Miami area.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Kasparaitis holds dual Lithuanian and United States citizenship.[20] He is the father of six children. He has a daughter by his first wife, Irina. His second marriage, to Ingela ended in divorce in 2006. Kasparaitis' current wife, Lisa, is a Swedish designer based in Stockholm and Miami. From 2009 to 2011, he lived in Sweden.[21] They have twin daughters, who were born in Sweden, and three sons.[22]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1988–89 Dynamo Moscow URS 3 0 0 0 0
1989–90 Dynamo Moscow URS 1 0 0 0 0
1990–91 Dynamo Moscow URS 17 0 1 1 10
1990–91 Dynamo–2 Moscow URS.3 16 3 7 10 6
1991–92 Dynamo Moscow CIS 24 1 7 8 8 7 1 3 4 6
1991–92 Dynamo–2 Moscow CIS.3 8 2 1 3 8
1992–93 Dynamo Moscow IHL 7 1 3 4 8
1992–93 New York Islanders NHL 79 4 17 21 166 18 0 5 5 31
1993–94 New York Islanders NHL 76 1 10 11 142 4 0 0 0 8
1994–95 New York Islanders NHL 13 0 1 1 22
1995–96 New York Islanders NHL 46 1 7 8 93
1996–97 New York Islanders NHL 18 0 5 5 16
1996–97 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 57 2 16 18 84 5 0 0 0 6
1997–98 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 81 4 8 12 127 5 0 0 0 8
1998–99 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 48 1 4 5 70
1999–2000 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 73 3 12 15 146 11 1 1 2 10
2000–01 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 77 3 16 19 111 17 1 1 2 26
2001–02 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 69 2 12 14 123
2001–02 Colorado Avalanche NHL 11 0 0 0 19 21 0 3 3 18
2002–03 New York Rangers NHL 80 3 11 14 85
2003–04 New York Rangers NHL 44 1 9 10 48
2004–05 Ak Bars Kazan RSL 28 1 3 4 118 3 0 0 0 6
2005–06 New York Rangers NHL 67 0 6 6 97 2 0 0 0 0
2006–07 New York Rangers NHL 24 2 2 4 30
2006–07 Hartford Wolf Pack AHL 12 0 3 3 8
2007–08 Hartford Wolf Pack AHL 4 1 0 1 4
2007–08 SKA Saint Petersburg RSL 33 1 4 5 83 8 0 2 2 49
2008–09 SKA Saint Petersburg KHL 26 0 1 1 34
2013–14 Hockey Punks Vilnius LTU 1 1 0 1 12
2014–15 Hockey Punks Vilnius LTU 1 1 2 3 0
2015–16 Hockey Punks Vilnius LTU 3 2 9 11 0
2016–17 Hockey Punks Vilnius LTU 2 2 5 7 0
NHL totals 863 27 136 163 1379 83 2 10 12 107
RSL/KHL totals 146 5 22 27 267 11 0 2 2 55

International[edit]

Medal record
Representing  Russia &  CIS & Soviet Union Soviet Union
Winter Olympics
Gold medal – first place 1992 Albertville Ice hockey
Silver medal – second place 1998 Nagano Ice hockey
Bronze medal – third place 2002 Salt Lake City Ice hockey
World Junior Championships
Gold medal – first place 1992 Germany Ice hockey
Silver medal – second place 1991 Canada Ice Hockey
European Junior Championships
Silver medal – second place 1990 Sweden Ice Hockey
Year Team Event Result   GP G A Pts PIM
1990 Soviet Union EJC 2nd place, silver medalist(s) 6 1 6 7 12
1991 Soviet Union WJC 2nd place, silver medalist(s) 6 1 3 4 16
1992 CIS WJC 1st place, gold medalist(s) 7 1 5 6 4
1992 Unified Team OG 1st place, gold medalist(s) 8 0 2 2 2
1992 Russia WC 5th 6 2 1 3 4
1996 Russia WC 4th 8 0 2 2 2
1996 Russia WCH SF 5 0 2 2 14
1998 Russia OG 2nd place, silver medalist(s) 6 0 2 2 6
2002 Russia OG 3rd place, bronze medalist(s) 6 1 0 1 4
2004 Russia WCH 5th 4 0 1 1 8
2006 Russia OG 4th 8 0 2 2 8
2018 Lithuania WC D1B 1st place, gold medalist(s) 5 0 2 2 2
Junior totals 19 3 14 17 36
Senior totals 51 3 12 15 50

Transactions[edit]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 1990: European Junior Championship All-Star Team
  • 1992: World Junior Championships Best Defenseman
  • 1992: Honoured Master of Sports of the USSR (renamed Honoured Master of Sports of Russia in 1993)
  • 2016: Russian Hockey Hall of Fame

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Kasparaitis named to Russian Hockey Hall of Fame". Lighthouse Hockey. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  2. ^ Diamos, Jason (November 18, 1996). "Islanders Trade Kasparaitis for Smolinski". The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  3. ^ Profile, Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  4. ^ Eric Lindros timeline
  5. ^ Eric Lindros' concussion history Archived 2011-03-05 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Grdnic, Dale (March 20, 2002). "Kasparaitis dealt to Colorado for Nieminen, Berry". The Times. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  7. ^ "Rangers sign Kasparaitis". United Press International. July 2, 2002. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  8. ^ Dellapina, John (September 25, 2007). "Rangers waive defenseman Darius Kasparaitis". Daily News. New York. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  9. ^ "Dinosaur On Ice". New York. February 3, 2010. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
  10. ^ "Kasparaitis beidz karjeru" (in Russian). parSportu.Iv. April 18, 2010. Archived from the original on February 27, 2012. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
  11. ^ Kasparaitis putting retirement on hold, thehockeynews.com. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  12. ^ a b "KASPARAITIS IS NO MILQUETOAST" Sell, Dave. The Washington Post. May 14, 1993. Retrieved 2020-11-28.
  13. ^ Writer, Michael Russo Staff. "PAYING THE PRICE FOR KASPARAITIS". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved December 26, 2020.
  14. ^ "Darius Kasparaitis was legendary for Islanders and Penguins — and he'd still suit up" Starkey, Joe. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Apr. 13, 2019. Retrieved 2020-11-28.
  15. ^ a b "‘DIRTY’ DARIUS A MARKED MAN – HATED, TARGETED BY FOES" Brooks, Larry. New York Post. March 7, 2006. Retrieved 2020-11-28.
  16. ^ "КХЛ: Дарюс Каспарайтис станет тренером в СКА" (in Russian). КХЛ. June 19, 2010. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  17. ^ PR, Newswire (February 19, 2015). "International Real Estate Developer, Verzasca Group, Enters U.S. Market, Launches Residential Developments In South Florida". The Street. Archived from the original on September 16, 2016.
  18. ^ Melendez, Eleazar David (February 19, 2015). "Russian Investors Plan Something Strange for Miami's Luxury-Happy Market: Something More Modest". Daily Business Review.
  19. ^ Bandell, Brian (February 19, 2015). "Russian condo developers launch firm with new projects in Miami". Florida Business Journal.
  20. ^ a b Lariviere, David (March 31, 2015). "Former NHL Veteran Darius Kasparaitis Is Building Condos In Miami". Forbes. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
  21. ^ Silverman, David (January 30, 2019). "Alumni Corner: Darius Kasparaitis". NHL. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  22. ^ "Darius Kasparaitis: "Fabrikas oficialiai uždaromas!"". hockey.lt (in Lithuanian). May 17, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Scott Lachance
New York Islanders first round draft pick
1992
Succeeded by
Todd Bertuzzi